(Updated 12 p.m.) A new Quinnipiac University poll on the U.S. Senate race shows there hasn’t been much movement amongst the U.S. Senate candidates since last September with the exception of former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays’ gain in the Republican primary.
Shays may still trail the former wrestling executive Linda McMahon in the Republican primary, but he’s picking up speed in the general election and is just one percentage point away from catching the Democratic frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.
McMahon leads Shays with 51-42 percent in a Republican primary and Murphy still bests his Democratic opponents Susan Bysiewicz and Rep. William Tong with 37 percent of the vote. Bysiewicz received 25 percent and Tong 4 percent.
In a general election match up Murphy tops McMahon 52-37 percent, while a match up against Shays is much closer, 41-40 percent.
In other hypothetical match ups Bysiewicz beats McMahon 49 – 39 percent; Shays gets 43 percent to Bysiewicz’s 42 percent; McMahon leads Tong 43 – 39 percent; and Shays tops Tong 50 – 25 percent.
“Congressman Christopher Shays has narrowed the gap with Linda McMahon from 15 points to 9 points. The question is whether he can catch up by primary day, August 14,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Doug Schwartz said in a press release.
“In general election match ups, Shays runs neck and neck with either Congressman Christopher Murphy or Susan Bysiewicz, while McMahon trails both of them by double digits.”
Shays did pick up about 7 percentage points in a Republican primary match up against McMahon and about 3 percentage points in a race against Murphy since the last poll in September.
In 2006, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman was the stronger general election candidate, which Ned Lamont proved when he defeated him in the Democratic primary.
“So it’s not unheard of for a party to go for a candidate that might not be as strong in the general,” Schwartz said at a Capitol press conference.
“And you’d still rather be Linda McMahon than Chris Shays, she’s in the drivers seat in the sense of she’s still the one with the lead. You’d still rather be obviously ahead than behind, but Shays is the one with the momentum,” Schwartz added.
And even though few of the Republican presidential candidates have campaigned in the state former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who came here last week to fundraise, wins with 42 percent of the vote, followed by followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 19 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 13 percent and Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul with 9 percent.
Gingrich will be at the top of Connecticut’s ballot, but it’s unclear if that will give him any advantage in the race. Connecticut will hold its primary on April 24. Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Rhode Island are also holding Republican primaries on that day.
In a general election match up Connecticut is still a blue state, which supports President Barack Obama who thumped Romney 53-37 percent in the poll.
The president leads 91 – 6 percent among Democrats and 48 – 37 percent among independent voters, while Romney leads 85 – 12 percent among Republicans.
Obama beats Santorum 55 – 35 percent.
Connecticut voters approve 53 – 43 percent of the job the president is doing and by 55 – 41 percent they have a favorable opinion of him.
“Gov. Mitt Romney is crushing Santorum in Connecticut, leading by 23 points. Romney’s strength continues to be among upscale voters and seniors,” Schwartz said.
“But President Barack Obama has a big double-digit lead over either Romney or Sen. Rick Santorum in the general election. The question here is whether the president’s coattails will affect the Senate race in November.”
Connecticut voters continue to approve of the job U.S. Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal are doing in Washington. The poll found Lieberman has a 51 percent approval rating and Blumenthal has a 64 percent approval rating.
The poll conducted between March 14-19 surveyed 429 Republicans and 640 Democrats. The margin of error overall was 2.4 percent.